Maybe it’s a girl thing, or maybe it is just a “me” thing, but when my closet is organized, my life just feels a little less chaotic. Despite my best efforts, there are simply times where life gets hectic, like right now during this quarantine, and it feels easier to close the door than to keep it tidy. Thus, I organize my closet a lot. Too often, according to my husband.
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He might be right, because I often wondered, with all this sorting and purging and re-folding and re-hanging, why does it always seem to feel like I never have anything to wear? I mean, obviously I could see that I DID have things to wear… there were countless blouses and sweaters and tee-shirts and dresses and jeans… oh, the jeans. There were plenty of things to choose from. So why did I hate most of it?
Years and years of “buying just to buy”, followed by another few years of buying things just “because they were on sale” left me with a closet full of clothes I didn’t really like, and with a closet that I kept re-sorting and re-organizing in the desperate hope that perhaps if it all looked better, I’d like it more. But it never worked. Despite a closet full of clothes, I would still only choose the few pieces I did actually like, while all the rest simply took up space.
I’m not proud of my bad habits, and I now realize how destructive those years of insatiable consumption really were. I am so thankful to finally be on a different path; one not controlled by always needing more. Even so, sometimes I would feel like I was constantly trying to dig out of the mess I made.
So I finally decided to take a more drastic approach with my closet. Inspired by my dear friend Edie’s closet tips, I invested in some very nice hangers—the cool skinny kind that are covered in velvet so your clothes don’t fall off. I only bought 40 because I couldn’t bear the thought of spending anymore, and I figured 40 would be enough to hold all the clothes I actually liked.
The rest had to go.
The process was actually was a lot easier than I would’ve thought. Honestly, I knew exactly which items I wore and which ones were just adding to the clutter. I filled 3 large bins with clothes that I wasn’t wearing. I wanted to donate them right away, but my husband convinced me to hold on to them for a few months, just in case I missed something.
Amazingly enough, in the months since this drastic purge, I have honestly never been happier with my wardrobe. Not only do I not miss the clothes I got rid of, I actually feel like I have more to choose from than I did before. Now when I walk into my closet I actually like everything I see. Getting dressed is a breeze, and keeping things neat and organized is much easier too. With only 40 hangers to work with, I am forced to keep things to a minimum, and anything new that comes in has to be something I truly love or it doesn’t make the cut.
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Tips for minimizing your closet for maximum gain:
- Purge ruthlessly. Keep only those pieces that you absolutely love and that you currently wear on a regular basis. If something doesn’t fit, has holes or stains, is out of season, or you just really don’t like it anymore, it needs to go.
- Determine each item’s fate. Just because it comes out right now doesn’t mean you have to throw it out or send it to Goodwill. If you’re anything like me, you probably have clothes in a variety of sizes, some of which you may still really like and hope to fit into again. Store a bin of “skinny clothes” to pull out if and when you lose the weight. If you live in a state with different seasons, go through the same steps for the clothes for each season—what doesn’t work, goes. Likewise, torn or stained items might just need a little TLC to get them good as new, and other items, such as jeans or t-shirts, are great pieces to add to your craft supply closet.
- Invest in great hangers. It is such a simple thing, but I found that buying a limited quantity of really nice hangers was the best motivation to finally weed out everything I didn’t love. It really wasn’t a huge investment but psychologically it made all the difference. And frankly, even inexpensive clothes seem luxurious when hanging on nice hangers. I bought my set at Target, but a similar set of 50 hangers is less than $30 (with free shipping) at Amazon.com.
- Minimize your losses. Just because you are getting rid of a lot doesn’t mean you have to take a total loss. Clothes & accessories that are in good shape can be brought to a consignment shop (be sure to wash, iron, & hang any items you plan to consign) or sold via Craigslist, eBay, Facebook, or garage sale. For more tips on how to sell your stuff, check out this very detailed post.
- Make it easy to keep things in order. Set up a no-fail system that is simple to maintain. I keep ALL my clothes in my closet (rather than dresser drawers) because to me it is easier to see what I have. I have clearly labeled baskets for the things that are hard to fold–bras, panties, swimwear, socks, pajamas, & accessories. I love keeping the laundry hamper in my closet as well–it makes sorting laundry so much simpler! I’ve used this heavy-duty sorter for about 2 years and it is great.
- Practice careful procurement. Once you’ve managed to pare your closet down to the bare minimum and have kept the pieces you truly love, keep it that way! When buying something new, choose quality over quantity. Resist the urge to buy something simply because it is on sale. You are always better off buying ONE piece that you love than TEN items that are just okay. I’ve personally found that sticking to small specialty boutiques, or using a personal shopping service such as Stitch Fix rather than the mass-market stores helps me avoid the old habit of buying just to buy. (Wondering if Stitch Fix is a good value? Check out my assessment HERE.)
- Re-evaluate regularly. It is a good idea to re-assess, re-sort, and re-evaluate your closet every few months. Once a season, double-check to make sure that your items are still in good shape, that they still fit, and that they are free of stains & holes. If necessary, pull seasonal items out of storage to add to the rotation, and store any items that are no longer seasonally appropriate.